“Vojvodina is a unique success story, the joint success story of Serbia and Hungary, and the better things are in Vojvodina, the better for the Hungarians, and the better for the Serbians, too”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó emphasised on Wednesday in Feketić (Bácsfeketehegy), where he officially inaugurated a new frozen vegetable processing plant established within the framework of the Hungarian government’s Vojvodina Economic Development Program.

Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that trade flow between the countries has broken a new record every single year since 2010, reaching over 2.5 billion euros last year, and in 2016 the Vojvodina Economic Development Program was also launched, with relation to which he said: “We have assisted 13 thousand enterprises, companies, farmers and agricultural producers in Vojvodina to date with 47.5 billion forints (EUR 137.7 million) of Hungarian budgetary funding, as a result of which a total of 93 billion forints (EUR 269.6 million) in investment has been realised within the territory of Vojvodina”. “This has reinforced the economic situation of the Hungarian community”, he added.

Mr. Szijjártó said the government’s goal is for the funding programme to continue to reach as many Vojvodina entrepreneurs and farmers as possible in future. “We first provided assistance to small enterprises and farmers operating on small areas of land, but this assistance can only remain effective in the long term if, in addition to financial assistance, we can also assure that there will be enterprises that continuously purchase the produce and goods generated by these small enterprises and farmers. This is why we have taken the next step and begun to also fund medium-sized and large enterprises”, he stated.

The Hungarian government has funded over a hundred large enterprises within the framework of the Vojvodina Economic Development Program, leading to the creation of 700 new workplaces.

Newly expanded Aretol Limited is Serbia’s largest enterprise within the frozen fruits and vegetables market, and is striving to also achieve a significant role on the Central European market. “The success of this 2.7-billion-forint (EUR 7.83 million) investment is also indicated by the fact 80 further jobs are being created, and the produce of 152 small-scale farmers are being processed here. The government of Hungary has contributed one and a half billion forints (EUR 4.35 million) in funding towards this 2.7-billion-forint investment”, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted.

The Minister also emphasized that the reinforcement of the Hungarian community in Vojvodina is contributing to the strengthening of Serbia, Hungary, and the whole Hungarian nation alike. According to the Minister, it is through economic development programmes that the Hungarian government can assure that the community can remain in place and gain strength on the land of its birth, and accordingly it will be continuing those programs.

President of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians István Pásztor highlighted that Aretol Limited is the last major development program to receive funding within the framework of the Vojvodina Economic Development Program, and this stage of the program has now come to a close. He thanked the Hungarian government for the moral, material and financial support that Vojvodina Hungarians have received in recent years in the interest of the realisation of the economic development program. Furthermore, he also expressed his thanks for the measures that Budapest introduced in the interests of Serbia and Vojvodina Hungarians during the coronavirus epidemic. “This is all part of the national policy that we have been constructing jointly for the past ten years, and of which we are the primary beneficiaries”, the politician said in closing.

Budapest initially earmarked a budget of 50 billion forints (EUR 144 million) for the 2016-2018 phase of the Vojvodina Economic Development Program, but later increased that budget. The greatest emphasis within the program was placed on agriculture, tourism, and the development of small and medium-sized businesses, the goal being to curb the emigration of young people and possibly reverse the process. The second phase of the economic development program, in which tourism has been given an even greater role, was launched last year.

(MTI/Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister)